"People who live in states have as a rule never experienced the state of nature and vice-versa, and have no practical possibility of moving from the one to the other ... On what grounds, then, do people form hypotheses about the relative merits of state and state of nature? ... My contention here is that preferences for political arrangements of society are to a large extent produced by these very arrangements, so that political institutions are either addictive like some drugs, or allergy-inducing like some others, or both, for they may be one thing for some people and the other for others."
Anthony de Jasay
(1925- ) Hungarian writer
The State (Oxford: Basic Blackwell, 1985), p. 18 and 20.
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Reader comments about this quote:
I assume when he says state he's talking about govt. and natural born freedom with no govt. when he says state of nature. It is the arrangement or middle ground where these two meet that forms govts. Freedom loving people are addicted to a form which protects the state of nature and allergy inducing to those which think govt. should take care of them from cradle to grave and vice versa. All govts. fall in between somewhere. Any other ideas as to what he means? To me he is simply making a good observation.
 -- Dan     
    I agree Dan he is not expressing this well or completly. I think he is referring to the "Green Acres" syndrome. Remember "green acres is the place for me", and Ava Gabor chimed in, "city life is the place for me". The dichotomy of city versus country living has been discussed in poetry and prose down through the ages. The simple fact is that the more we live in proximity to each other the more law, organization and socializing common practices we have. His discussion however does explain the gun issue. Country and farm dwellers think of owning guns and killing deer as the most natural thing in the world. City dwellers (some) think it is an evil stupid practice.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Yes, he isn't being very clear as to what he means is he. your idea takes into account the first line and that's where I kind of lost him.
     -- Dan     
    I think I kind of like it.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Pretty true. Those of us who grew up in cities know nothing about how to raise our own food, build our homes, live off the land, etc.. We depend on the machinery of commerce and industry, and are far removed from nature itself. As a result, many of the man-made structures and institutions we are forced to squeeze ourselves into result in allergic reactions or even death. Processed food, office desks & chairs, pollution of all kinds are so pervasive that we hardly realize that living in harmony with nature would cure many of our ills. The same is true with the socialized culture that expects us to register for this, get licensed for that, permission to sit down, succumb to arbitrary authority, etc. -- we forget that none of this exists in a state of nature. In the state of nature, we are responsible for providing for ourselves -- if not, we die. Those that know how would prefer to be masters of their own destiny rather than be subservient to external authority. Those dependent upon those that know how to farm and produce wish to control that production for their own safety regardless of whether it imposes upon the rights and dignity of those that produce. I believe that is why you find more socialists in cities than in rural settings. Everyone is trying to look out for themselves, but those dependent upon others can only have control over their lives if they control those upon whom they depend.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    I live in a small peaceful town. Fifty miles from an interstate. My father use to live on the side of the Sierra Nevada. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and lived in the Chicago metro for 25 years. I like both environments. I believe it foolish to look down on city dwellers just because I feel so fortunate to live on 1/3 acre and many of my friends live on between 10-300. My peace and tranquility would be shatterd if all the city folks moved out here. So I support and hope the best for them and hope they stay where they are. Studies show that more and more are moving that way rather than this way.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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